Nederburg Winemakers

Nederburg Winemakers

Niël Groenewald

Managing Director

Niël Groenewald

Managing Director

“I love winemaking as much as I do the business of wine,” says Niël Groenewald, managing director (MD) of Nederburg.

Previously head winemaker for Distell with the immense responsibility of overseeing the production of South Africa’s largest wine portfolio, and before that in a similar position at DGB-owned Bellingham, Niël was appointed to the position of Nederburg MD in early 2019. In this role, he focuses on critical aspects of wine production, as well as wine business and marketing, and is spearheading the evolution of the dynamic Nederburg brand.

Niël holds an MBA from the University of Cape Town and a BSc Hons degree in winemaking from the University of Stellenbosch. He has extensive experience in leading top-performing teams, optimal supply chain management and marketing, honed over years through international exposure to South Africa’s key trading partners. He strongly feels that winemaking alone doesn’t make a successful brand. “Marketing, focus and engagement with the market and industry are just as important.” And that is exactly what he’s doing.

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Samuel Viljoen

Cellar Master

Samuel Viljoen

Cellar Master

Nederburg’s cellar-master since April 2021, Samuel Viljoen gives everything to his winemaking and is very in tune with his team. “We are like a band of brothers who spend more time with each other than with our families.”

What this seasoned winemaker loves most about his job, that now involves overseeing the production of the Paarl cellar’s multi-tiered range distributed across more than 80 countries worldwide, is that he is contributing to some of the most meaningful moments in other people’s lives. “It gives me such a great feeling when wine lovers tell me about the Nederburg wine they served to announce an engagement, to toast a birthday, to honour old friends or new ones, to celebrate a new job or a rite of passage. I feel proud and humbled at the same time.”

The Stellenbosch University graduate in viticulture and oenology who was born in Bredasdorp, has been part of the award-winning winery team since 2007, first as an assistant, and from 2014 as its fully-fledged winemaker of Nederburg’s reds. Previously, he worked for a mix of small and large wineries, from the highly acclaimed American boutique cellar Domaine Serene in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the large volume Goudini Winery in Rawsonville with its accent on mainstream markets. His previous South African experience also included stints with Klein Constantia, Fairview and Longridge.

He enjoys the countervailing forces of his role, now as a cellar-master. “You have to be very analytical but also learn to trust your intuition and your taste buds. You need structure but flexibility to work with as many as 23 different varieties at any given time. You must be able to enjoy making minute quantities of special collectible wines and on the same day, switch to making popular wines for global markets, and you must feel at home creating classical but also original, very different wines.”

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Zinaschke Steyn

Assistant Red-Winemaker

Zinaschke Steyn

Assistant Red-Winemaker

Hailing from Klerksdorp in South Africa’s North West Province, thirty-three-year-old Zinaschke Steyn is a young wine-maker not to be taken lightly. She moved to Worcester after matriculating in 2005, where she worked as a proof-reader at Pioneer Printers while exploring the Cape Winelands during her free time. The initial idea was for her to obtain a BSc degree in Chemical Engineering at Stellenbosch University with the thought of becoming a brandy distiller, but during her first two years in the Cape it became evident that winemaking is where her heart is.

“Winemaking seemed a lot more fun than brandy – I like to get my hands dirty and to be physically involved in the process from start to finish. It is a challenging environment that is never the same, each year you get one chance to make a success of the vintage, and you never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve! Also, it would make for a good story – a Valie that grew up on brandy and beer, now making wine. In 2007 I went to see oom Willie at Elsenburg, and the rest is history,” she explains.

Zinaschke completed her BAgric degree in winemaking and viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Stellenbosch in 2010, after which she gained first-hand experience in wine-making at Overhex Private Cellar, KWV and GlenWood Vineyards.

Appointed as Nederburg’s assistant red-winemaker in late 2018, she now works under the leadership of seasoned winemaker and cellar-master Samuel Viljoen.

“Nederburg is a wonderful playground to experiment with different methods and techniques, but I feel that it is important to still execute the basics correctly. Keep it simple and stay true to your style. Always trust your gut, and your palate,” she states.

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Pieter Badenhorst

White-Winemaker

Pieter Badenhorst

White-Winemaker

Pieter Badenhorst, Nederburg’s white-winemaker, grew up in the scenic Boland town of Tulbagh, surrounded by majestic mountains and fertile valleys boasting pristine vineyards.

This is where his interest in wine was piqued - trying to fathom, from an early age, how it’s possible that a microscopic living yeast cell can turn grape juice into wine. It was this scientific occurrence, coupled with the chance to create something tangible, something a little magical and adored worldwide, that fascinated him to the point of pursuing a career in winemaking.

So, after matriculating in 1998, he enrolled for a four-year Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Stellenbosch, specialising in oenology and viticulture. Straight after graduating, he was appointed as Nederburg’s assistant white-winemaker, working under the guidance of cellar-master at the time, Razvan Macici, a gifted winemaker whom Pieter still admires to this day for his contagious passion for wine.

“It was also during this time that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with another immensely talented winemaker, Andrea Freeborough, who now heads up winemaking at Distell, Nederburg’s parent company,” he explains.

In 2019, Pieter’s journey in winemaking came full circle when he returned to Nederburg to head up the white-winemaking team, after more than a decade as winemaker for Fleur du Cap, another of Distell’s prestigious wine brands. In between, he managed to squeeze in some harvest seasons in Germany and France, equipping him with valuable experience and a chance to further hone his winemaking skill.

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Jamie Williams

Assistant White-Winemaker

Jamie Williams

Assistant White-Winemaker

Ask Cape Flats-born Jamie Williams about her biggest challenge to date and the 28-year-old assistant white-winemaker at Nederburg is unequivocal: “travelling internationally, on my own and having to rely on people I’ve never met!”

This from a young woman raised by a single mum and her late grandmother, who died while Jamie was still in high school. The overseas trip she refers to, was an opportunity to work in California after her studies. Her journey into wine however, started some time before that.

Born in 1993, Jamie spent her childhood in Retreat and matriculated at Norman Henshilwood High School in Constantia. “I’ve always had a passion for science,” she says.

In her second year of a BSc with specialisation in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch, she undertook a module on wine biotechnology. “I was captured!” she declares.

Her BSc graduation was followed by appointment in 2015 as a laboratory analyst intern at Distell’s Die Bergkelder. A year later, she became harvest cellar intern before taking on her current position at Nederburg in May 2018.

Jamie names her career highlight to date without hesitation; it’s that very same August 2016 trip to the US she regards as the biggest challenge she has faced. She was invited to participate by the Communicating for Agriculture Education Programme (CAEP).

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Isabel Teubes

Viticulturist

Isabel Teubes

Viticulturist

Nederburg’s talented young viticulturist is Isabel Teubes (29). She took up her position at the award-winning Paarl winery in early December 2019, and is responsible for overseeing all of Nederburg’s vineyards in Paarl, Simondium and Groenekloof, as well as those of its wide network of suppliers in many of the Cape’s top growing areas from Durbanville to Gansbaai, from Elgin to Ceres.

Down-to-earth and unpretentious, she hails from Vredendal, where she was born and raised on a wine farm situated along the banks of the Olifants River.

“I’ve been actively involved in farm activities relating to winemaking and viticulture since the age of 10. I understood early on that the oldest and golden rule for keeping a healthy vine bearing succulent fruit, is to maintain balance between the rooting system and the canopy. Modern viticultural practices and techniques allow us to determine wine styles in the vineyard already. This really excites me!” she says.

Before joining the DGB winemaking team in 2014, she obtained a degree in agriculture from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Matching her innate passion for wine growing with incredible effort and hard work meant an opportunity to travel to the United States (US) to discover and learn. She spent some time working in the US wine region of Russian River in the Sonoma Valley, where she enjoyed incredible exposure to international viticultural standards and practices.

Isabel says she is driven to succeed by the unique challenge of each harvesting season. “Each vintage is different. Each year comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities.”

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